Some successful local and regional fly patterns.

Weather Report

 

 

The first set of photos and the accompanying tying description is for a fly that evolved from the popular elk hair caddis but which we've modified slightly to acquire some characteristics that allow it to be used for a variety of insects including the caddis and a variety of different types of stones plus a few mayflies.  We named it the "White River Special" or "WRS" for short.

The fly was first used on that river and proved to be successful during a weekend when a many surface insects were on the water, including several types of caddis, red quills, yellow sallies, and some larger golden stones.

We all know there's really nothing much new under the sun, and this imitation is no exception to that rule.  Based roughly on an elk hair caddis design, there are a few significant differences.  The hook is always a TMC 200R, and the tying thread is always fluorescent orange.  No hackle is used, nor is there any tail.  Natural deer or elk wing hair is preferred to any of those hairs dyed or bleached.

The only other modifications we make are to sometimes add rubber legs or a few strands of krystal flash built into the wings as extra sparkle.

WRS and Rubber Leg WRS:

 

From upper left reading clockwise around the photo are a dark bodied, black rubber leg, yellow bodied white rubber leg, krystal flash wing model, and the fly as originally tied at the lower left.

 

 

We blend a variety of materials to create what sometimes become fairly complex dubbings.  Depending on the coloration desired, natural hare's ear, hairtrons, antrons, and any number of other natural and synthetic materials are combined in an effort to create a "buggy" body that will emulate the movement of palmered body or collar hackles.

Tying is extremely simple.  Make a dubbing loop, insert dubbing, and tie in the back two thirds of the hook, followed by the wing, and then take two or three wraps of the dubbing over the base of the hair wing to form a somewhat large "head" for the fly.  If rubber legs are added, they are tied on prior to wrapping the dubbing over the base of the hair wing.  That's all there is to it.  A full range of hook sizes from 12 through 22 can be utilized for different insect imitations. 


Later version rubber leg WRS:

Here are some of the most current rubber leg models that we began using in the summer of 2008.

All have been very effective at mimicking caddis, stones, cicada, and various terrestrials.

From left to right, we have yellow banded legs, then olive/black banded, and finally king snake color bands.

Body dubbing varies depending on the insect we wish to approximate.  Tying thread remains fluorescent orange and the hooks are still 200R's.  

 


Spotlight addition to a rubber leg WRS:

 

 

Not much changed here - simply the addition of a small chunk of orange foam tied in front of the wings to make the fly more visible on the water.

 

(Obviously also a big help to us whose eyes aren't quite as good as they were a few years ago!)

 

 

 


Specific WRS modification as a yellow sallie:

The more conventional winged WRS wasn't working well when we encountered yellow sallie hatches.

Changes made to the fly shown here are much more effective.  An orange tag is tied at the rear of the body.  The wing is sparser and tied flatter over the body. 

These slight modifications proved to be outstanding when fishing this specific hatch on difficult streams like the Green below Flaming Gorge and on the Frying Pan.

 


Tying Directions for the WRS fly:

Here are a set of photos that describe the tying technique for the WRS.  There are a couple of minor modifications to this version compared to the way it was originally designed.  Foremost would be the addition of a small foam core to the body under the dubbing material.

The reason adding the foam is that roughly ninety percent of the time, we are trailing a weighted nymph behind the surface fly.  The foam seems to give the WRS a bit better level of floatation compared to the unfoamed version.

 

Thread is always fluorescent orange.  6/0 is used down to size 18 on the 200R hook after debarbing the hook in the vise.  8/0 is used for smaller sizes.

In this photo we've cinched down a small piece of 2mm foam to the head of the fly.

It's not necessary to have a foam core unless additional flotation is desired.

 

The core material is tied off towards the tail of the fly.

If even more flotation is desired, the remaining foam can be left at the end of the hook and then drawn forward over the back of the fly after the body is dubbed.

 

 

In this case the foam was clipped off, the dubbing loop created, and the thread returned to the head of the fly.
The body is dubbed towards the head, leaving a short space free to tie in the hair wing material.

On this particular fly we've used yellow/green hare and ice dubbing.

The hair wing is tied in next and heavily cinched down near the head of the fly.

Natural elk or coastal deer seems to work far better and float higher than does bleached or dyed hair.

Two or three loops of the dubbing are then tied over the thread near the hook eye to form a somewhat larger head for the fly.

 

 

 

Here's the completed version.  This might be the simplest fly in the world to tie.


The next set of photos is of a flat water type cicada pattern we've developed specifically for that insect emergence on the Green River below Flaming Gorge.


Green River Cicada:

Clockwise from upper left are a turkey winged black rubber leg, then the same wing, but orange/black centipede legged model.

Bottom right is the same orange/black centipede leg fly, but with a gray mottled medallion sheeting wing.

Bottom left is the same fly as previous, except with black legs.

Frankly these imitations are quite time consuming to construct.  Almost any standard dry fly hook will work.  Our best success has been using a TMC 200R is sizes 10-16 (see WRS above).  The under body dubbing is a blend of half black and half orange material.  

The two mm. thickness black foam is tied in at the tail and is pulled over the first half of the dubbing (starting at the top of the back bend of the hook).  The back rubber legs are then tied at that juncture.  Four strands of root beer colored krystal flash are tied over the legs and then the wing material is tied in atop the krystal.  (If a section of wild turkey feather is used, a preliminary coating of flexament will strengthen the wing.)

One or two wraps of the dubbing is tied over the same joint, and then the dubbing is continued on towards the head beneath the next section of foam.  The foam is then tied down near the head with the last set of double legs applied next.  The balance of the foam material is pulled back over the upper section of the body and is secured to create an oversized head.  Any excess foam is clipped off.  While an extra heavy thread is not needed to secure 2 mm. sized foam, we've used 3/0 anyway as the wider width thread tends to not cut the foam.

As might be expected, these flies are difficult to see on the water since they ride low in the film.  It's possible to tie on a bright colored piece of extra foam material over the head, but as this fly will sometimes land upside down on the stream, the artificiality of that kind of colored addition might detract from the fly's appearance and certainly would cause more refusals.

This fly design has produced outstanding results compared to the commercially tied versions available at local Dutch John fly shops.  The model has been fished in tandem with those other styles and has been found to draw several times more strikes than the more commonly available bleached hair wing or strictly krystal flash wing styles.


Olive wing cicada:

June, 2008.  The fishing report for the Green below Flaming Gorge now suggests that the regular cicada patterns have been cast so often by floaters and bank fishers that more subtlety is needed.  

Apparently the current emergence - as opposed to what we've seen in previous years - have an olive sheen to them for whatever reason.  

Here we've substituted solid black legs and a green tinged underbody dubbing plus a peacock colored medallion sheeting for the wings.

 

 


Stick Fly:

I've had a love/hate relationship with stonefly nymph imitations over the years.  Found them very complicated to tie successfully and never seemed to have exactly what the fish were looking for when I used them.

Don't know exactly where this heavily weighted impressionistic fly came from, but I first saw it in Phillip White's book "Trout Fly Tying".  It seems to work as well for me as any of the other stone or similar types of nymphs I've used before, so it's my fly of choice when searching the bottom of streams (many times trailed by a small scud or other smallish nymph.)

Simple to tie.  Body and thorax are wound with .015 or .020 lead wire as an underbody.  The body is peacock herl, and the thorax is green, yellow, or burnt orange dubbing or chenille.  Only difference between this fly and the original I saw in the book is the addition of a short tail of the same black hackle fibers.


Antenna Pupa:

This fly has become increasingly useful over the years.

Developed originally by a tier in the Salida, Colorado area, we've made it our primary pupa pattern when caddis are in bloom.

My sense is that the antenna provide a wonderful sense of motion that successful patterns of many insect types use to fool fish.

Some parts of the original stay the same.  The two antenna remain pheasant tail fibers.  A bead usually is employed not only to get the fly down in the flow but also to emulate the air bubbles that help a pupa reach the surface although we use some completely unweighted.

Our modifications relate to body materials.  Variations include peacock herl wrapped around a copper wire (as in a dubbing brush), sometimes overlaid with antron (ala Lafontaine).  Other body changes would be the use of gray or insect green Hare's Ear Plus dubbing.  Legs are always partridge.  The thorax or head would generally be black Hare's Ear Plus dubbing.  

A year 2009 modification.  We've eliminated the use of partridge legs.  Their loss doesn't seem to matter to the trout at all.


Serendipity Buckskin (Buckskindipity):

 

Here's another slight modification to an old pattern.

Again there's nothing original here - just the addition of a stub deer or elk hair wing to the classic buckskin nymph.

We made this change in the summer of 2009, and it worked very effectively on a number of streams - foremost being the Arkansas.

The leather body material quickly absorbs water and sinks readily.  The addition of a small bead may help with a bit of flash though it hasn't been any more effective than the beadless model.  Am guessing the nymph represents a generic caddis emerger.

We've tied the fly on either a standard length straight nymph hook or on a 2487-88 curved hook in sizes from 16-20.


Next.  Here's another modification to a preexisting pattern known as the RS-2.  We found the original to be more or less always effective, but it didn't seem to have enough "attractor" quality to trigger takes in stream flow conditions that were somewhat off color.

Sparkle wing RS-2:

To give the fly a bit more flash, the stub or emerging wing material was changed from either CDC or some other natural feather to several strands of Krystal Flash.

For most body dubbing colors the standard pearlescent material seems to work the best.

But to more closely match an emerging BWO, we will sometimes substitute black Krystal Flash instead.

Hook sizes are generally small  - in the #18-22 range.  18's for a PMD model and smaller for general purpose use.  Although we fish the fly primarily as a trailer behind either a WRS or another larger nymph, we have added a few wraps of thin lead wire underneath the dubbing to get the fly down quicker.


We've visited the famous Pelican Lake in Utah several times in the recent years.  This shallow warm water reservoir is loaded with perhaps the best population of very LARGE bluegills in the country and many bass besides.  Located just a couple dozen miles west and south of Vernal off Highway 40, it is seriously under fished by most fly people.  

Though we've always encountered a few casters there, for the most part, visiting fisher people tend to turn north at Vernal and head to the more famous tailwater below the Flaming Gorge dam.  That's possibly a mistake.

In a couple of hours of wading the reeds along any bank of the lake it's possible to play and release up to three digit numbers of absolutely wonderful fish.  Eventually too much of that good thing becomes too much, but it's still a whole bunch of fun as a prelude to fishing the "Green".

Simple damsel nymph:

Here's a fly that we experimented with and have found to be relentlessly successful in the reeds despite whatever other hatch or emergence may be occurring.  

It's nothing more than a very simple rendition of a damsel fly nymph.  Tied on a 3X long #12 streamer hook, it's unweighted.  The eyes are black plastic barbells. 

A marabou plume is tied in at the back end of the hook and then wrapped forward around the hook to create the body.  

The marabou continues towards the head to be over wrapped a couple of times over & under the eyes to give that head some detail.  A medium sized copper wire is wrapped from the tail to the head to create segmentation.  We assume the color should match the color of the indigenous damsels, but here at Pelican, gold seems to work a bit better than either olive or darker green.

We fish it just at the depth it sinks to when cast with a floating line and twitch it back.  Not retrieving with a twitch risks the loss of many fish as these bluegills tend to "taste" a fly before taking it.  The twitch allows the fisher to feel the bite.


The balance of the patterns shown below have been added to this page from time to time since 1997.  They're shown in the chronological order that they were added.  Those at the end of this list are the most recently constructed.

Complex dubbings are now being created that incorporate the "legginess" hackle feathers normally confer on an artificial, and the hackle feather flotation qualities are now being generated by waterproofing the fly at the time it comes out of the vise.

Here are a few patterns that have been extremely successful locally - where appropriate the comments in blue type face reflect current thinking about body & winging materials.

Blue Winged Olive Variation:  While our tying philosophy continues to be to simplify & minimize materials used in construction, this particular version of a Blue Winged Olive comparadun benefits from a bit more complexity.  Since our local BWO's are fairly small, we use standard #18-22 dry fly hooks. 

The tail is a few dark dun hackle fibers.  Body is BWO colored quill.  Wings are light or gray colored elk or deer hair tied comparadun style.   The thorax region is dubbed with a combination of regular hare's mask fibers into which has been blended a small amount of BWO colored micro dubbing.  This style thorax is much more realistic in appearance than is created by the use of standard BWO dubbing without the hare's ear fibers, and it is the key to the construction of this fly.

Generic Midge Emerger:  This is another very simple pattern used primarily during late fall through early spring when the only hatches we see on some of our more fishable winter tailwaters are a variety of different colored midges.  It's tied either on straight or curved nymph hooks (as shown here) generally between sizes 18-22. 

Note that a few turns of thin lead wire can be wrapped around the body region to sink the fly without the need for split shot.  The body is either black or white krystal flash.  A few short light dun CDC fibers makeup the vestigial wing.  The thorax is a few wraps of peacock herl.  The CDC wing offers the possibility of fishing the fly in the film if desired, although generally this imitation will be fished it mid flow or towards the bottom. 

Hybrid Caddis: It probably appears heavily dressed in this scan, but is not. In fact sparseness is it's redeeming grace. Sizes range from #10-20. Materials are as follows: No tail, cinnamon caddis dubbing body, dark dun body hackle (not palmered), wing is sparse (not stacked) elk hock hair.

This fly is best tied very lightly. It imitates not only the local dominant caddis coloration extremely successfully, but also those on the Roaring Fork, Gunnison, Deschutes & McKenzie & Umpqua (Oregon). The hybrid name comes from the fact (primarily due to unstacked wing hair) that it also successfully imitates several local May fly variations. (Beginning in 1999, we built the bodies strictly with complex colored dubbings, eliminating the palmered body hackle.   Dubbing colors are blended to suit the local situation.  Materials include various antrons, natural rabbit fur with guard hairs, and a base of hareline or superfine standard dubbing.)

Normally it's fished as part of a double fly rig - generally with a darker green bodied version with dark wings - sometimes with an emerger or appropriate bead head.

Gray Midge Emerger: This spring the pattern was the most successful of all larval, emerger, or surface midges we used on Gore Creek and the Eagle. Not an original. It comes from the book of Western Hatches by Hafele & Hughes. (See page 194). It's described as an emerging pupa.

We tie it locally exactly as described in the book. Sizes 18-24. Tail is ostrich herl, body is deer hair ribbed with ultrafine gold wire. Thorax is narrow gray ostrich herl. The fly was fabulous during the spring of 1997.

OS-1: A knock-off of an RS-2. The scan is not good colorwise, but a few dark dun hackle feathers are used for the tail, a torpedo shaped gray dubbed body and a stubby stack of grey partridge feathers emerging from the body two thirds towards the head. Tied on standard length wet fly hooks in sizes from 16-22. 

(The BWO pattern uses olive partridge.  Starting in 1999, wing stubs have all be various shades of CDC depending on the type of insect being matched.  This allows the emerger to be fished nicely in the film as well as deeper.)

This has been an outstanding nymph/emerger on Gore Creek and the Eagle in the past few years.

Spent Wing May Fly:  Not an original pattern, but one that was enormously successful in 1996. Tied in all color variations to imitate baetis, red quill, blue quill, green drake, etc. Sizes from 10-22.

Tail feathers to match the natural and body dubbing appropriate for standard may fly patterns. The wing obviously is formed from a hackle feather that has been trimmed very close to the quill. It's then tied in a figure eight over the thorax area. Hackle can be non-existent, dubbing based, parachute, or standard wrap. This type of tie can also be used for tricos in appropriate sizes and colors.

Red Midge: Another very successful Gore Creek fly this spring (1998). Used in small sizes - either standard length straight wet fly hook or as shown here in a curved style (2487 or 2488). Sizes were #18-22, although larger 2X-4X long hooks in #10-16 would work as bloodworm larva in lakes.

No tail - or a few partridge feathers.  Body is micro sized red v-rib. 8-0 Black thread for a head, and there is a barely visible vestigial wing pad of antron or other bright material just behind the head.

Egg Flies: The left one is a simple glass bead fly. Number of segments are dependent on the hook size. Right fly is a crosscut scintilla. The left one is more original and some days is superior to the scintilla, but on balance the scintilla would be preferred.

Tie the glass bead by over wrapping the hook with florescent orange thread. Slip on the beads and tie the thread off at the bend of the hook. A drop or two of super glue secures the package.

For the scintilla model create a dubbing loop of 6/0 or 8/0 orange thread and fill it with amber or similar shade of scintilla. Keep the dubbing sparse and before wrapping, cut it close to the thread. Wrap the fly with figure eight motions. This pattern is incredibly lifelike when wet. The "yolk" is astonishingly realistic.

flyalloperla.gif (3755 bytes) Light Yellow Stone: Despite it's benign appearance this was probably the most successful fly of the 1999 season through mid-August.  It was developed to roughly simulate the many small yellow stones we locally encounter on the Eagle and Roaring Fork Rivers.

Tied in sizes 14-20 on 2X long dry fly hooks, use a PMD blend body dubbing material.  The full length forward tied hackle is either brown or light dun.  Wing can be various shades of bucktail or elk hair.  Best color this season was pure white.  Start the dubbing, then tie in the wing.  Overlay the wing with a few wraps of dubbing to the head, and then tie in the hackle starting at the tail of the fly forward all the way to the head in stimulator fashion.  Smaller sizes (16-20) seem to be the most useful.  (Again  beginning in 1999, the body is strictly complex dubbing material.  The fly is astonishingly versatile.  We've successfully used it to imitate a variety of yellow, green, and golden stones, as well as green drakes and grasshoppers.  Obviously it's tied in larger sizes to match these other insects.)

flyblkstone.gif (3330 bytes)Dark Stone Nymph   A generic stone we tie on 2-3X long nymph hooks in sizes from 10-20.   This may be the best all around local nymph pattern - superior to prince's and other more realistic stones.

Use brown thread.  Tails are dark brown or black goose biots.  Body is the most interesting feature.  Make up a peacock herl dubbing brush on the spot.   Depending on the size of the fly, tie in butt first 2-4 pieces of herl; then tie in a piece of fine copper wire same length as the herl.  With a hackle plier gently wind those part together and begin wrapping on the body.  Towards the thorax the brush can be lapped back & forth to add mass to that section.  Tie in appropriate sized black hackle at the head and take 3-4 wraps.  Pull a previously tied in dark turkey flat section over the top of the hackle & tie in at the head.   Do not overdress any part of this fly.

flyyelstone.gif (2722 bytes)Yellow/Golden Stone Similar to the above, but tied with brown biots, brown turkey flat wing pads and light brown hackle.  Again with or without a gold or other colored bead head.  Only difference is body preparation and that can be any light olive or PMD colored dubbing.  I usually run a section of yellow flashabou from the tail to the head for segmentation and sparkle.  Sizes as above.  Again, do not overdress.

flycademg.gif (1748 bytes)Caddis Emerger   This is really just an adaptation of a Lafontaine caddis.  Here we seem to have better luck below the surface during the blizzard-like spring caddis hatches.  So this fly is generally used with a small gold bead head.  We use various colors of antron for the shuck, sometimes trailing the fly, sometimes just covering it.  For a body simply use appropriate wraps of peacock herl.   Partridge in different shades makes the wing.

rb1.gif (5945 bytes)rb2.gif (3194 bytes) Rabbit Bugger  A variation on the conventional wooly bugger.  Since our personal tying philosophy is moving away from the use of hackles, this construction seems to work well in terms of the way the body moves and pulsates in the water.  The image on the left is that of the bugger when dry & the one on the right is after it's wet.

Use any desired type of weighting device - from the painted lead eyes noted here to other metal eyes, cone heads or bead heads.  The tail is a clump of any colored marabou with a few strands of appropriately colored krystal flash of the same length. The body is simply regular rabbit fur cut from the skin strips & placed in a dubbing loop much like any other dubbing would be used.  Continue the dubbing up and over the eyes to create a fuller head.  Sizes range from 6-14 on 3X or 4X long streamer hooks.

Gunnison Hopper  Synthesized from a number of other hopper imitations.  Body is yellow foam colored with an olive prisma pen.  Legs are any mottled green rubber leg material.  Under wing is natural elk body hair and over wing is a tent folded section of turkey feather.  Coloration is a decent general match of the grasshoppers common here in Colorado.

 

Caddis Pupa   This pattern showed up in one of the major fly fishing publications this spring (2003).  Developed by a guide from the Salida area we modified it slightly but kept it mainly intact.  # 16 standard length dry fly or nymph hook with 3/32 bead head in a variety of colors.  After body is dubbed tan or brown hare's ear, sometimes simply peacock herl, followed by a few turns of partridge and a sparkly dark dubbed thorax.  Antenna are two pheasant tail feathers.

As an option, we'll sometimes tie in a swath of antron fibers behind the head and loop them back around the rear of the body along the line of a Lafontaine emerging pupa.

 

Orv Petersen
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Revised: April 19, 2017

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